What to Know About Milk Tea Hair Color, the Latest Beverage-Inspired Beauty Trend

What to Know About Milk Tea Hair Color, the Latest Beverage-Inspired Beauty Trend featured image
Han Myung-Gu / Getty Images

From Hailey Bieber’s cinnamon cookie butter hair to Meghan Markle’s chocolate chestnut brunette, the revolving door of edible hair trends doesn’t appear to be ending anytime soon. The latest hue that TikTok is craving in 2024? Milk tea hair color, inspired by the popular East Asian beverage.

With over 16,000 Instagram posts and another 2,000-plus on TikTok (figuring in both #milkteahair and #milkteahaircolor), milk tea hair is a bona fide social media trend, but it actually got its start off-platform. The patron saint of milk tea hair color is Rosé of the ultra-popular K-pop group Blackpink. Her unique, greyish-reddish-blonde shade can be found on many a Pinterest board and exemplifies this popular (if hard-to-describe) hue.

Another celeb who has tried on the trend is Lucy Hale. Her cool-toned look by celeb colorist Matt Rez is a more subdued take on milk tea color and demonstrates how it can be interpreted differently on different base colors.

  • Parvin Klein is a celebrity colorist based in New York
  • Shvonne Perkins is a master colorist at Madison Reed

What Is Milk Tea Hair Color?

So, is milk tea blonde, brown, or something else entirely? “This hair color has a blended mix of ashy blonde, gray and brown tones, just like the subdued color of the milk-and-black-tea mixture,” explains Parvin Klein, Director of Color at Julien Farel Restore Salon and Spa in New York, whose clients include Nicky Hilton, Martha Stewart, Hillary Clinton and others. 

According to Shvonne Perkins, Master Colorist at Madison Reed, the hue is “muted, soft and based on the cooler side of the color spectrum.” She adds that although it does have a bit of a deeper root, “With this trend, we’re not seeing the super lengthy root outgrowth of ombré. A natural root, paired usually with heavily highlighted hair and all toned to a seamless and soft silvery ash tone mixed with a beige base (usually dark blonde to very light brown or copper penny).”

If it seems like there were a lot of different hair colors mentioned there, it’s because the color can be personalized, depending on your base. “There can be many variations on this hair color as well, some with an even more grayish ashy tone, to beige, to even a subdued red,” says Klein.

It begs the question: Is it worth even asking your colorist for milk tea hair color? Perkins says yes. “It’s okay to call this trend by its name, but more importantly, you want to start with knowing what variation of milk tea hair you want to start with,” says the pro. “Because the trend itself is more of a tonal scheme than a specific shade, narrow it down for yourself by figuring out which base you want.”

That customization is exactly why Perkins says this cool-toned trend looks good on everyone. “You’ll just need to figure out which level and exactly how cool you want it,” says the colorist, adding that “This is an adaptable look.”

Can You DIY Milk Tea Hair Color?

According to Klein, “Every colorist will find their own technique to achieve” milk tea color, and because it’s so complex, she would “never” recommend the DIY route for this particular trend (as tempting as the TikTok tutorials are). “This color can be tricky even for a seasoned professional,” says Klein. “If you are looking to achieve this look, please go see a colorist you trust!”

How Do You Maintain Milk Tea Hair Color?

“This is not a low-maintenance trend,” says Perkins, noting that “All human hair is naturally ‘warm toned’ under what you see with the naked eye—gold and red tones will always present themselves in the coloring process.” 

Because of that fact, almost everyone will need some bleaching beforehand, then adjusting to the desired shade, which is where the maintenance comes into play.

Because of the unique dimension and tone, you’ll want to use products that protect the color as long as possible, or you’ll be right back at the salon. “To help maintain a tone like this, you should be using a color-safe, sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner,” recommends the colorist. 

That being said, this isn’t the type of hair color you want to shampoo every day. Instead, wash hair no more than every other day and swap in a color-correcting mask once a week. Because this color can lean blonde-grey or brunette, choose a product that best fits your specific shade. 

“You’ll want to use a blue or purple toning shampoo at least twice a week,” says Perkins, who recommends Madison Reed ColorSolve Bond Building shampoo with purple color shot ($46). 

The good news? Root upkeep is fairly easy, “because having a shadowy root is part of this look, so you can let it grow out for some time without throwing it off.”

Product recommendations

1 / 3

Lolavie Restorative Shampoo ($29)

This shampoo from Jennifer Aniston’s hair care line features vegetable ceramides and botanical extracts to strengthen hair and is sulfate-free, so it won’t fade your fresh color.

BUY NOW – $29

Lolavie Shampoo
2 / 3

Lolavie Restorative Conditioner ($29)

Also color-safe and suitable for all hair types, the Lolavie conditioner has a vegan keratin complex, hydrating jackfruit and smoothing coconut alkanes to protect against frizz.

BUY NOW – $29

Lolavie Conditioner
3 / 3

Christophe Robin Shade Variation Mask ($53)

Christophe Robin’s Shade Variation Mask comes in Ash Brown, Baby Blonde and Warm Chestnut options, so you can choose the right one for your unique hue.

BUY NOW – $53

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